Asian Mental Health Resources: A Tribute to Evelyn LeeHome | About Evelyn Lee

About Evelyn Lee

A Loving Tribute to an Inspirational Spirit

Evelyn Lee

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder . . .
May you never take one single breath for granted . . .
Time is a wheel in constant motion always rolling us along . . .

These three Buddhist-like verses from Lee Ann Womack's beautiful song "I Hope You Dance" epitomize the way Evelyn Lee lived her life – to the fullest.

Evelyn Yee-Wai Miu Lee Fong, Ed.D, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at University of California in San Francisco, was born on June 25, 1944, in Macau, China and died in San Francisco, California on March 26, 2003.

She was widely respected and loved in the mental health field and the Asian American community – as a clinician, administrator, teacher, author, community advocate, and humanitarian. She was also admired for her boundless energy, intelligence, charm, "can-do" attitude, and wit.

Evelyn Lee received her B.A. in Social Work at Chung Chi College of the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 1963. She graduated from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland with a MSSA in Social Work in 1968. She worked at Boston's South Cove Community Health Center from 1976 to 1980 as the Director of Mental Health, Social Services and Health Education. She also studied at the University of Massachusetts (Amherst), where she received in 1983 her Ed.D in Mental Health Administration. Between 1980 and 1982, she served as a Social Science Analyst in the Federal Government in Washington, DC. In 1982, she joined the Asian Focus Psychiatric Inpatient Unit at San Francisco General Hospital as Program Director, as well as being appointed Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California in San Francisco (UCSF). In 1988, she founded the first-ever Chinese Family Alliance of Mentally Ill, and in 1992, she helped to organize the NICOS Chinese Health Coalition, both in San Francisco.

In 1990, Evelyn became Executive Director of Richmond Area Multi-Services, Inc. (RAMS), a community-based, non-profit mental health agency in San Francisco. At RAMS, she started several innovative programs: Bridge-to-Wellness Partial Hospitalization Program, Hire-Ability Vocational Rehabilitation Program, Broderick Street Residential Care Home, psychological help for Russian-speaking clients, wellness and school-based programs. She also initiated training programs for immigrant parents about parenting skills, and for school personnel in working with immigrant/refugee children and their families. In 1999, she became Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at UCSF.

In 1999, Evelyn was invited to the first-ever White House Conference on Mental Health. Beginning in 2000, she served as Vice President of the Board of the National Asian American/Pacific Islander Mental Health Association (NAAPIMHA), and from 2001 onward, she was a Board member of the National Mental Health Association. She received numerous community service and teaching awards.

Evelyn also fostered many international exchange programs, and was a Visiting Scholar at Shanghai First Medical College, Moscow State University, and Clarke Institute of Psychiatry (University of Toronto). She has also conducted workshops in Japan and Taiwan, and in Chinese communities in Vancouver and Toronto.

Evelyn served as a consultant on cultural competence and diversity to many community health and mental health organizations, schools, hospitals, and local, State and Federal government agencies such as the National Technical Assistance Center for Children's Mental Health, Georgetown University; State of California, Department of Mental Health; and State of Texas, Department of Mental Health.

Among her 30+ publications, Evelyn's edited book (which she dedicated to her mother, Isobel Choi Lum), Working with Asian Americans – a Guide for Clinicians (1997), stands out. She wrote and taught in topics such as: cross-cultural communication (including the use of interpreters); refugee trauma; immigrant acculturation; inter-generational conflict resolution; the role of religion; and complementary/alternative/integrative medicine approaches. In 1988, she authored the widely used parenting teens handbook, Ten Principles for Raising Chinese American Teens, which was subsequently translated and adapted into Chinese and Vietnamese.

For hobbies, Evelyn loved to grow orchids, travel, and photograph Nature (samples of her remarkable photographs taken on trips to Europe, Asia, and North America are included on this website). She became a very devout Buddhist, and co-founded the Center for Compassionate Living, a Buddhist study center in San Francisco with Wing H. Yeung, MD. She had infinite love for her family and friends. Those who are fortunate to have known Evelyn Lee will always be inspired by her compassion, generosity, exuberance, humor, childlike curiosity, mentoring skills - and her humanity.

Some people come into our lives and quietly stay,
Others stay for just awhile, leaving footprints in our hearts,
. . . and we are never the same.


This website in loving memory of Evelyn Lee was conceived and developed by her husband, Henry Hung Fong. Organization/content development was provided by Emma Tao White, MD, PhD, Licensed Clinical Psychologist, and technical development/design was done by Scott Barnard. Appreciation is hereby given to the following individuals and organizations for their support: the Board of Directors of NAAPIMHA (Executive Director: D. J. Ida, PhD) for their enthusiastic support; Francis Lu, MD, and Wing H. Yeung, MD, for their encouragement and ideas; Guilford Publications (New York City) for permission to reproduce four chapters from Evelyn Lee's edited book Working with Asian Americans – A Guide for Clinicians (1997); the Board of Directors of Community Youth Center (Executive Director: Sarah Ching-Ting Wan, MSW) in San Francisco for permission to reproduce the Chinese, English, and Vietnamese versions of Evelyn Lee's 1988 parenting teens handbook; Harriet Koskoff, San Francisco documentary producer, for permission to use excerpts from her 2003 video "A Visit with Evelyn Lee - Working with Asian American Immigrants and Refugees"; and "I Hope You Dance", song by Lee Ann Womack, words and music by Mark D. Sanders and Tia Sillers, 2000.

Comments & Suggestions

Please send your comments or suggestions for articles to:

Thank you!